Ferran Torres scored after replacing the injured Robert Lewandowski to help Barcelona win 1-0 at FC Porto on Wednesday, while teenager Lamine Yamal became the youngest starter in the history of the Champions League.
Lewandowski was replaced by Torres after he hurt his left ankle when tackled by defender David Carmo. The Poland striker tried to play on, stopping to have his ankle taped, but he was still limping and eventually came off in the 34th.
Torres capitalized on the first major mistake by Porto when Romário Baro weakly hit a pass toward his defense and then stood by while Ilkay Gündoğan raced past to pick up the ball and set up his forward to score the winner.
It was a tough loss for Porto after it generated several scoring chances in a second half that the hosts dominated at Estádio do Dragão.
“We said before the game that this match would go a long way to determining the order of the group, so we had to win it one way or another” Torre said. “Today we showed that we don’t have to have the ball to pull out a win.”
Barcelona finished with 10 men after Gavi Páez saw a second yellow card in stoppage time.
Barcelona’s Yamal became the youngest starter in the history of the Champions League at 16 years and 83 days. Yamal already had the record for the youngest player to play for Barcelona from last season. He became the youngest scorer in a European Championship qualifier when he debuted for Spain last month.
In the other Group H game, Danylo Sikan scored twice as Shakhtar Donetsk erased a two-goal deficit to beat Antwerp 3-2 in Belgium.
Barcelona leads the group with six points. Porto and Shakhtar have three each, while Antwerp has zero.
Porto coach Sérgio Conceição won the tactical battle against Xavi Hernández, even if his team lost the game.
Porto swarmed Oriol Romeu, the holding midfielder who has replaced Sergio Busquets this season at Barcelona, every time he touched the ball and that succeeded in disrupting the visitors’ possession-based attack.
The back-and-forth game favored Porto, which threatened on the counterattack while Barcelona was unable to do much more in attack beyond Torres’ opportunistic goal.
The second half was all about Porto attacking in waves and Barcelona relying on center back pair Jules Koundé and Ronald Araújo, along with goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, to keep them at bay.
Koundé and Araújo both had to make risky tackles in the area to stop Porto’s speedy winger Pepé after he broke free in the area. Porto striker Mehdi Taremi also went close before Xavi reinforced his midfielder with youngster Fermin López and veteran Sergi Roberto and his defense with Marcos Alonso to cling to the win.
Barcelona was missing injured starting midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Pedri González and winger Raphinha.